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Do you pack your own food when you go...

to the museums, etc? We just went to a museum yesterday and spent $24 on lousy food. I should have packed our lunch. Do you? What do you bring that travels well and satisfies?

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  1. Cheeses, deli meats, breads, cole slaw, even tastycakes. Bottle of wine,iced tea, or lemonade.
    tomatoes, veggies, pickles.

    1. Definitely! The usuals include kimbap, jumeok bap (rice balls), or just plain rice; mandu (dumplings), soy braised beef or galbi, SPAM, fried tofu, soy sauce eggs or gaeran mari (rolled egg with seaweed), and/or pickled radish; and cut fruit. Other favorite combinations include wine, cheese, mustard, pickles, and an aged, dried meat like salami; my sad approximation of a banh mi or Italian cold cut sub; or just hard boiled eggs and a bunch of cut up fresh vegetables. Basically anything that does well during a short hike.

      1. i don't, but then i don't eat in the museum either

        1. No but we are going to start! Last week lunch at the zoo for 4 of us was $51 and it was just cheeseburgers. I think typical picnic fair of sandwiches, fruit and chips is where we will start but I hope to branch out so this thread will be great!

          1. Zoos are one thing, museums are something else. Bringing food into many museums would be...discouraged, let's say, but that's just my guess. Zoos, on the other hand, are open territory.

            It's usually easy to check out the menus at museum restos, but not their snack bars, which are often as expensive as, oh, ball parks. Not unreasonable to put up a CHOW request for nearby restaurants when you know you're going to visit a place. I have a list of spots I suggest to folks when they visit our local ones or places like the Metropolitan in NYC.

            2 Replies
            1. re: lemons

              From the OP, i did not get that the food was taken into a museum. Assumed was picnic outside, maybe my bad.

              1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                I have taken food into a museum although I know they discourage it. I might bring a sandwich and then buy something from the museum's restaurant/snack bar such as coffee or a cookie. That way I'm only halfway a cheapskate.

            2. When my kids were younger I always packed lunches whenever we went to museums, aquariums, the beach, sporting events, etc. Certain things should be frugalized, in my opinion, and spending ridiculous amounts of money on bad food-service foods is a no-no in my little world. $24.00 could have purchased a tank of gas at the station for a nice day-trip somewhere else. When the kids were young, it was PPJ all the way, Capri sun, fruit and a little sweet. Now it's a baguette, cheese, or a salad, or a nice sandwich on good bread. All from leftovers or what I have in the house. The economy ain't gettin' any better and I refuse to spend more than I have to.

              6 Replies
              1. re: jarona

                I used to hate it when amusement parks would check your bags on the way in and confiscate food. I once had my daughter hide one of those yogurt tubes in her shirt to foil the security at Six Flags. Their food is so overpriced!

                1. re: NYCkaren

                  I never carried any extra baggage when it came to places like Six Flags. Always stuffed the food in my oversized purse and the kids pockets! These places get more than enough money in admission fees--the price of food in these places is ridiculous.

                  I will say, the Bronx Zoo was a great place to go when my kids were younger b/c they never checked my bags b/c we belonged to the zoo. Ohhhhhh. I miss those days!

                  1. re: NYCkaren

                    Isn't that crazy! The first time it happened to me I came right home, emptied a package of (whispers) feminine product and used that to pack our snacks in. When they whipped open my backpack next time there it was for the world to see. It got closed and handed back to me quick fast and in a hurry! Special diets, food allergies....AND THEY TAKE OUR FOOD???

                    1. re: NYCkaren

                      In HS when ever we went to the Six Flags in NJ we would bring a cooler w/sodas and snacks and stop at a deli for sandwiches. Because they allow you to leave and come back in we would leave the park when we got hungry. And go eat our lunch while driving through the Safari Park (and no, even as teenagers we never fed the animals). It was a nice air conditioned break to allow us to rest between rides.

                      1. re: viperlush

                        But if you live in New York City and don't have a car and take the bus to Six Flags, you have no place to stash a cooler. It's either eat their overpriced food or try to smuggle some in.

                    2. re: jarona

                      Jarona! Exactly my thoughts! I can certainly "afford" the $24 for lunch, but it was 2 slices of bad frozen cheese pizza, chicken nuggets, fries, and a premade turkey sandwich. I did not let the kids get drinks. We had water. Just way too much to spend for bad food. I would have much rather bought 3 dollar double cheeseburgers and 3 small fries at McDonald's! That would have only been $6 and change! And, to me and the kids, it is yummy!

                    3. Well, two issues here - cost and quality. The cost doesn't bother me (especially since you don't say if the $24 fed 2, 4, 6....people). But more generally, the reason the cost doesn't bother me is because the museums need the revenue generated by food and merchandise sales to stay open. This is particularly true in the days of state and federal budget cutting and a recession that caused donations to drop. Here in DC, where the museums (except the Spy Museum and the Newseum, which are privately owned) are free, this revenue is particularly critical.

                      So the cost doesn't bother me.

                      But lousy food - at any price - does bother me. There is no reason they can't offer a variety of reasonably fresh, reasonably healthy foods.

                      We do take our own food when traveling by air, for obvious reasons - extremely lousy airport food at ridiculous prices (there are some exceptions, like Argo Tea in the main concourse of of terminal 3 - across from a Starbucks and next to a Cibo, as you head to the H gates). And of course the lousy airline food at ridiculous prices.

                      But to a museum - generally not, for the above-mentioned reasons. You didn't say which city, but most museums allow you to leave and re-enter, so you can always go to a nearby restaurant if the museum food really is bad.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Just Visiting

                        While I'm all for supporting museums, zoos and aquariums, they so often have terrible food. Especially at zoos. I actually worked for a food vendor at a zoo when I was younger. The burgers were cooked in the morning, and then dropped into a pot of beef broth (chemical-laden, artificial tasting broth) to keep them warm but not dry them out. I'd rather drop a fiver in the donation bucket. No overhead, so they get more money that way.

                        1. re: Terrieltr

                          Most of the art museums I've visited have good, even excellent, food. Other museums (e.g. sports museums) may differ--I don't typically visit those.

                      2. I never have have taken food into a museum or similar place. I think that any kind of day outing for me is always a chance to sniff out a new restaurant in the neighborhood that I'll be in. Makes the whole day more fun!

                        1. I haven't taken my own food to a museum yet but I can't rule it out for the future. I wouldn't eat in the museum but I see no harm in leaving to sit outside and enjoy my own food.

                          I do take our own when we travel by air and train. Just did a flab lunch, with wine, on a two hour train ride two weeks ago.

                          When our son was younger and we would go on outtings, I would almost always take a small lunch bag for him. There was no way I was feeding him the garbage offered at the zoo or where ever we were. I am not cheapskate and the Philly Zoo, Hershey Park, etc. bottom line didn't suffer because of my son's fresh fruit and cheese.

                          1. I never pack food because we try to travel light. I stick a credit card and some cash in my pocket, and we're out the door.

                            It's a hassle to lug around a heavy bag filled with water bottles and lunches. This is especially true at a water / amusement park. You're always looking for places to stash your stuff when you go on the rides. Or, you're the one holding the stuff while everyone else gets wet.

                            I know the prices are high, but to me, it's like paying for the convenience of not carrying my supplies around all day. Besides, part of the fun of a day trip is trying new food. I've actually had some pretty decent food at zoos - great Gyros and delicious BBQ.

                            I'm almost ashamed to admit it, but we steer our day trips toward restaurants or food choices that we're interested in. Like heading to the Baltimore Aquarium as an excuse to get crabs for lunch.

                            1. A picnic under a Renoir. That sounds like fun.

                              1. All of the zoos and amusement parks I frequent let guests leave the park and reenter on the same day, and most have picnic areas just outside the gates. Growing up, we always packed a picnic in a cooler and left it in the car. It was kind of nice to take a break from the noise and crowds in the middle of the day. Now, I mostly go to Busch Gardens, which has pretty good food with sharable portions, so it isn't too expensive. My cousins also live very close to the park, so we will sometimes just go home for lunch in the middle of the day. For museums, it really depends on the cafeteria options, restaurants in the area, and if there's a good picnic space nearby.

                                If it's just snacks, and not a full meals, then it's pretty easy to carry a few small snacks in my purse, and either buy drinks or drink from a water fountain. I've also found that most places, especially outdoors, are happy to give away cups of tap water for free - it's much better to give people free water than to have them pass out in the middle of the park :)

                                1. Peanut butter always fills me up and you can also bring a banana and put it on the sandwich later. Depending on how long a turkey sandwich may hold up too, just dont put any condiments on it. Either bring with you take from the dinning options available. Protein bars are good. You can always bring oatmeal backs & ask for hot water. I usually always have an apple or an orange on me. Carrots and dip or hummus is a good pick too.

                                  1. The airport, ham & cheese sammies, cold homemade pizza (lots of people druel when they see pizza), PB&J an old stand by, fruit, italian cookies, empty water bottle to fill after security.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: treb

                                      +1. Why rely on someone else? And be disappointed-like that lady who threw her airplane meal at the flight attendant because she didn't get a veggie meal. (Just be sure it doesn't smell, as a courtesy to your fellow passengers.)

                                      And recently when I went to the Natural History Museum in NYC, I did bring a lunch. It was in an insulated lunchbag in my backpack. I don't recall having to check my backpack while in the museum. I ate it on a bench in a little park.

                                    2. Yup. Snacks, and drinks at Disneyworld in a wheeled knapsack. Water, crackers, diet coke (for the kid, of course) granola bars, etc. One of the guards protested until I pointed out the six year old.

                                      They made plenty off me everywhere else. Those guys are masters at painlessly separating you from your money. I had to admire that "disney" card they give you if you stay in the hotels. It doesn't even feel like spending real money, so everyone goes crazy. I can't believe I bought some of those tchotkes.

                                      1. we love to eat in the national gallery of art's garden café. they have a wonderful buffet themed on the current exhibit. we also like to get tea or coffee to re-gather our energy in the national gallery of art's cascades cafeteria. and my favorite tea break is at the smithsonian castle's little café for an excellent tall cup of earl gray.

                                        as to otherwise taking food, no, because we live very close to the museums...and i don't want to be hauling stuff around in any event. <'cause it would be me doing the hauling ("hey could you put this camera in your purse?"), and not my husband, 'cause that's how it rolls. so i save my self. ;-)>

                                        1. Nope, we never pack anything. We care much more about convenience than money. We also view outings as opportunities to try new restaurants. It might mean walking around a bit, but we do a lot of that anyway.

                                          As a child, I actually was always annoyed when my family would inevitably pack lunches wherever we went on outings. Mostly because my family always had terrible food and even as a young child, I liked trying new things. It always seemed like a missed opportunity to escape the canned beans and hamburger helper that was ubiquitous at my house.

                                          1. Funny, I've often found that museums have pretty good food: MOMA & DeYoung in SF, the big art museum in Philly.

                                            1. We always pack our own. We usually do pb&j since it's easy to transport and doesn't need to be kept cold. We bring grapes, strawberries, carrot sticks, granola bars, and dried fruit as well. Sometimes we bring goldfish....we have 2 toddlers :)

                                              1. No, like others we try to plan our visits around meals. But then again, it's easy when you travel w/out kids. I do usually have a granola bar or two in my bag and a refillable bottle of water just in case. And luckily I either go to free musuems (DC), have museum memberships, or get free passes from my local library so when we do spend money at the musuem it's not as painful.

                                                1. I don't see the big problem...as others suggest, eat a good meal before you go and pack a baggie of almonds or any other nut along with raisins that easily fits in a pocket or purse if you feel hunger coming on...it will sustain and nourish you til your next meal.